Caring for Myself Each #Pinktober
This October (2022) will be my sixth (6th) Pinktober since my diagnosis with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) in 2017. My mother is a survivor of a DCIS diagnosis from several decades ago and we'd experienced Pinktober as a family before my diagnosis. It was always an emotional month as we remembered together how close we came to losing my mother, an integral part of our family.
It's just complicated
Before my diagnosis, we marched in lots of awareness events and I bought lots of pink things to honor and remember my mother's experience with cancer. As soon as I was diagnosed through literally the summer from hell in 2017, everything became so much more complicated.
It's complicated to watch people celebrating the end of treatment.
It's complicated to see and experience campaigns to raise awareness of a disease that will end my life.
It's complicated to be encouraged to participate in awareness when everything in me wants all of those funds to be directed to research.
It's just complicated.
At a loss
Over the past five (5) years, I've done different things to handle all of these complicated emotions. I've thrown myself into campaigns like #LightUpMBC and the legislative efforts of Metavivor with the Stampede. I've taken big steps back and done absolutely nothing. I've published daily blogs trying to educate others about MBC.
And I'm literally at a loss this year.
Recently, I passed into unicorn territory when I passed the five (5) year mark, something only about 28% of us with MBC will get to experience. I am very very aware of how amazingly lucky I am to be able to see my 6th Pinktober and I know that so many we've lost would love to be able to see this day themselves.
And yet many of my dear friends won't get to experience Pinktober at all. Their lives ended before this October.
And so what the heck do I do with all of these emotions and feelings and dread and joy and all the rest?
I've no real answers, but here are five (5) things I'm doing this Pinktober:
- I'm giving myself permission to say no. Even if there are many opportunities to speak about MBC this October, I'm only going to say yes to one or two and definitely not two on the same day. It takes a lot of emotional energy for me to communicate about my own experiences and I need to prioritize my own peace.
- I'm making up some cards to hand out. So many people lately have told me things that I know aren't true about MBC and sometimes it's hard to know what to say. To save myself time and emotional energy, I am making some cards to just hand out.
- I'm not going to participate in any events that include survivors of each stage (0-III) disease. Yes, I understand that this website includes those diagnosed with stage III disease, but that experience is just completely different from Stage IV and I need to protect my own heart. I'll never be done with treatment and MBC will end my life, those who are able to celebrate the end of their treatment are just too triggering right now.
- I'm limiting the number of companies that I will ask about whether they donate the money they make in Pinktober to research. Too many companies take advantage of the hoopla around breast cancer in October to make money to line their pockets. Rather than trying to talk to every company I come across about their disgusting elevation of profit over people, I am prioritizing how much I do this.
- I'm going to listen to my husband more. He is much better at I am at noticing when I'm going down a path that is bad for me. I need to listen to his perspective and say no more often.
Each of us is different and has different capacities. Honoring those differences and understanding our limits and our abilities is so key.
Now it's your turn -- what will you do differently this year?
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